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MAINE EMERGENCY MANAGEMENT AGENCY
From the Director: Preparing for the Worst
October 14, 2010
This week, I had the pleasure of speaking with local officials at the MMA conference. Much of what we discussed is applicable to leadership in the private sector as well. Here are some of the points I raised with them.
Our overall theme was “Preparing for the Worst”.
The first step is being prepared
Recognize your obligation as a leader, and recognize that your community expects you to be a leader. This has far-reaching implications.
Be assured that a crisis will occur which will need your leadership. Maybe it hasn’t happened yet, but it will. Commit to educating yourself and your community. What are your knowledge gaps? What are your community’s vulnerabilities? How can you best contribute to emergency and disaster management before, during and after the crisis?
Every event is unique, but the impacts have similarities. There may well be personal injuries or even deaths, loss of or damage to public and private property, disruption of commerce and daily life and economic hardship
None of these are good. All are bad, and all cause suffering. The suffering can be short or long term. The alleviation of that suffering becomes the focus of all our efforts.
Some actions to consider:
Prepare your own home and family, so that you can be available to help others in a crisis. Similarly, ensure your critical staff and their families are prepared, and understand their roles in an emergency.
Assess your risks and understand your capabilities and vulnerabilities. Identify your critical partners and understand their capabilities and vulnerabilities as well. Review your community’s emergency plan and make sure it is actually a useful and useable document.
Ensure local ordinances give you the authorities you will need to manage a crisis. In every community, there should be the legal basis for declaring a local emergency and a clear understanding of what that declaration means.
Create an emergency response team within your community. Your EMA Director can’t do the job alone, and neither can the Fire Department. Many people, including business leaders, have a role to play. Support your EMA Director with guidance and direction – and resources.
Give special consideration to vulnerable and functional needs individuals and groups. Functional needs can be needing information in another language, needing transportation, or needing medical equipment. Who of your citizens would need additional assistance in an emergency? How would you meet those needs?
Understand what assistance can be brought to bear, so you can put it to the best use. Understand what will and won’t be immediately available to you.
Be prepared to communicate effectively with your people. By and large, people want to help in an emergency. Be sure you give people the information they need to help themselves and others.
Most of all, be prepared to be a leader. It’s your obligation, and what your community expects of you.
As always, let me know what you think.
Rob McAleer, Director, Maine Emergency Management Agency
Last update: 07/20/10
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